Finding the Right Nonprofit Partner Before Disaster Strikes

Questions to Consider

When looking for the right nonprofit organization to build a disaster relief strategy with, there are going to be a few questions you must ask yourself:

› Is this for a disaster that has impacted my company directly? Employees, facilities, major supply chain partners, or a large number of customers?

» If YES, then you want to work with those closest to you and to the problem. Direct service providers who are on the ground as well as established community partners who may have resources or programs in the impacted area.

» If NO, but it is important to your employees, is large scale, or peripheral to your supply chain or impacts some of your customers, you will need to consider what role you want to fill. To identify the best way to give in an area you don’t have a direct connection, you need to identify the short- or long-term impact you want to make.

› Will you provide your employees a direct way to give and feel like they have contributed like supporting a national organization that steps short-term during relief periods?

› Or do you want to help support the impacted community long-term by directing employee giving to a local foundation and become a resiliency partner to help rebuild?

› Is this response going to be part of our corporations short- or long-term plan? Financial or service or both?

› Who else can I work within helping those impacted? Competitors, supply chain, partners, government?

› Do I know what my local, regional and state emergency plan is and how my company can be involved? VOAD, local Dept of Emergency Management, State Office of Emergency Services, FERC, Chamber of Commerce local and National, etc.

Organizations to Consider

There are typically two kinds of nonprofit organizations that assist in local disaster relief and resiliency. It is important to differentiate and pick which type of organization you would like to align with before choosing your partner:

Direct Service Providers

The first are Direct Service Providers – social services, faith-based, relief organizations, NGOs and public sector agencies. These groups are not always the ones you know of or the ones that come to mind immediately when you think of disaster relief organizations. They are nonprofits that support vulnerable people as their primary function and step up to take on even more when needs arise.

Example: A food bank, church or shelter that has a much larger population to support following a disaster. They may be volunteer-run, short-staffed, and often their own workers are impacted by the disaster as well.

Public Sector

The second are those more involved in the public sector. These are in charge of planning and supporting the economic and structural rebuilding of disaster response. These are organizations that also, when directly impacted by disaster, often don’t receive any aid and can struggle to stay afloat during and after a disaster.

All of these organizations need your support, both now and for the future, so that they can be prepared to assist when disaster strikes.

Take Your Pick

Once you have gone through the steps above and answered the questions associated with choosing a nonprofit partner, you must ensure it aligns with the needs and wishes of your employees and corporation. Ready to seal the deal? It’s understandable if choosing just one nonprofit partner seems a little difficult. If choosing a partner isn’t an option for your organization or you feel it pigeon-holes your employees focus areas, consider donating to local Community Foundations.

With corporate donations being limited to where funding can be directed, Community Foundations can work as an intermediary. Additionally, Foundations are better equipped to handle the increase in donations, direct funds in an efficient and transparent manner, and verify that recipient organizations are vetted if necessary. This will give you a more secure method for directing your employees’ and corporate funds in a time of disaster. Community Foundations exist throughout the United States and if there isn’t one in the area impacted by disaster, there is usually a regional or state foundation that can distribute funds accordingly.

Practical Partnership Strategies to Consider

  • Clothing drives are not typically useful to those in disaster, but if your employees feel strongly about it, redirect the items collected to a local organization. Don’t send your used clothes to a community in a disaster.
  • Do regular events that are focused on preparedness, CPR and blood drives. While there, explain why you as a company support the organizations strategically and what you are doing today to help them prepare for tomorrow’s disaster.
  • Create skills-based opportunities for your employees to help their favorite organizations be more resilient. Check to see if they have a tech plan, an emergency plan, etc. If not, consider partnering with that nonprofit organization to develop one.
  • Communications and media are a necessary part of telling the story. You need to counteract the immediate emergency coverage with results. You can also create your own stories with organizations in advance of a disaster but covering disaster preparedness or volunteer projects that you can reference later.

Example: A school your employees helped last fall is supporting during a disaster. The school has taken in kids from surrounding areas where their school was destroyed. Now employees can support the school before, during, and after disaster. Make the connection for people that today the disaster is somewhere else but tomorrow it could be here.

  • Back up giving opportunities with volunteer or service opportunities wherever your employees are located.

When it comes to picking that perfect nonprofit partner before, during, and after a disaster strikes, it is important to already have your strategy developed and implemented. By answering the questions above, ensuring they are aligned with the desires of your employees, you will be able to determine which type of nonprofit organization you are looking for. The rest is up to you!

  • Look in your own backyard – when your nonprofit partner is right in your community, you will be able to work hand-in-hand and help make a bigger impact.
  • Engaging Your People – Of course, you can find nearly all vetted 501(c)3 organizations on your technology platforms, but you want to make sure that it is a cause that will keep your employees coming back. Pick a mission people are passionate about.
  • Give it some legs! – More than likely, your nonprofit partner will experience the same hardships your employees experience. Make sure you are supporting it year-round so it can withstand tough times too.

Antionette believes the best ice cream is the kind eaten for breakfast.

She has deep, direct experience working for major corporate foundations in multiple capacities including; employee giving, grants management, sponsorship activation, and technology training. She’s driven transformative efforts to successfully innovative programs, select and implement technology, strengthen vendor relationships, and exponentially increase employee engagement and community impacts.

Personally, Antoinette maintains strong ties to nonprofit organizations. She has served as a fundraiser, events director, and board relationship manager across a large spectrum of arts, environmental, and social service organizations. She takes a holistic approach to solutions, with a sharp eye for improved efficiency, and doesn’t hesitate to roll up her sleeves to make things happen.

Antionette brings a deep personal focus, leveraging her liberal arts degree and an exceptional network of industry practitioners. Learn more about Antoinette and her firm here!